Jeanette "Astute Crabbist"'s Reviews > The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945

The Pianist by Władysław Szpilman
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I've read a lot about World War II, but I'd never fully grasped the complete destruction, the utter devastation of the city of Warsaw. Hitler was like a bratty child with a toy he'd rather destroy than share with anyone else. When he knew he was going to lose the war, he ordered that Warsaw be reduced to rubble. Among the ruins there was a Jewish musician named Wladyslaw Szpilman who had managed to survive for six years, and a German named Wilm Hosenfeld who saved Szpilman's life one last time.

I read this entire book in 24 hours. Szpilman wrote his account immediately after the war ended, so you can sometimes feel that sense of urgency, that need to pour everything out onto the page and purge himself so he could begin to recover and build a new life. He had a long career as a performer and composer, and died in 2000.

The book also includes some excerpts from the diary of Wilm Hosenfeld. He didn't personally kill or brutalize anyone during the war, but he never flinched from the collective responsibility of the German people for what they allowed Hitler to do to the world. It was later discovered that Hosenfeld had also helped other Jews during the war. I hope he did finally get his tree on the Avenue of the Just in Yad Vashem.
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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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message 1: by Petra X (new)

Petra X I hope he did too.

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" He did, Petra, in 2008. Here's the write-up:

Hayley I'm so glad he was recognised for all that he did. His fate really upset me.

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Oh yes, Hayley, it upset me to read about how things went for him. So many evil people got away with no punishment, whereas he really had to suffer.

message 5: by Joanne (new) - added it

Joanne Moyer I remember the movie but I never realized that this is what it was about. I have a huge interest in Polish history since my mother was born there and have been reading a lot about WWII recently and also never really realized the damage that was done to the country - and it's people. A close friend of our family was a member of the Resistance, and suffered greatly during that time - his family was killed because the Nazi's were trying to find him. I didn't know any of this until I was older, he understandably never spoke about it ...
I've added The Pianist to my MUST read list...
Another book I found interesting and enlightening was The Zoo Keepers Wife - it's about how the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo helped to hide Jews during the war ...

Hayley Joanne wrote: "I remember the movie but I never realized that this is what it was about. I have a huge interest in Polish history since my mother was born there and have been reading a lot about WWII recently and..."

thanks Joanne, I have added The Zoo Keepers Wife to my reading list.

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Joanne, this is definitely a must read for you, with your family connection. There's an intense immediacy in this account that we don't always get from true stories of this time and place.
Funny, I always confuse The Zoo Keeper's Wife with Water For Elephants. Must be the animal theme. I will definitely look for the book. Thanks.

message 8: by Joanne (new) - added it

Joanne Moyer I'm expecting The Pianist to arrive any day now ....
Another good book about Poland and the resistance is a novel calledWhile Still We Live It's an oldie and was given to me many years ago by one of my mother's sisters. I still have that copy somewhere but just recently bought a new one. It's out of print and not easy to find, but there are used ones available on Amazon ...

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" That does look interesting Joanne. Sometimes the novel form is easier to take than nonfiction.
My library has The Pianist on DVD, so I'm looking forward to watching it someday.

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